UMBC Watch

“Students come to UMBC to achieve ambitious goals, knowing they will receive the education and support  they need to be successful and compete with the best.”

President Freeman A. Hrabowski, III


Senior Philip Graff Wins Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship


March 17, 2008 - Philip Graff, a senior physics major, has won one of the world’s most selective academic awards, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Graff, the second UMBC student to receive the award in the past two years, is one of just 45 U.S. winners chosen from more than 600 applicants and 119 finalists. Other U.S. winners for 2008 include students from such universities as Harvard, Yale, MIT and Princeton. 

Graff, who will pursue a Ph.D. in Physics at Cambridge, came to UMBC on a full scholarship through the University Fellowship program and is a member of the Honors College. An astrophysicist, Graff studies what gravitational waves (caused by the interactions of binary stars and other massive bodies) can tell us about the large scale structure and history of the universe. He created a computer model of quasar radiation as an undergraduate at UMBC and worked with one of the world’s most sensitive scientific instruments, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, during a National Science Foundation fellowship at Caltech. His quasar work is the topic of a research paper currently under refereeing with the Astrophysical Journal.

“Philip’s combination of self-confidence, high social intelligence and understanding of his work made it very difficult for my colleagues to believe that he was only beginning his junior year,” said Markos Georganopoulos, research assistant professor of physics at UMBC and Graff’s mentor. “He built an excellent physics and mathematics background, which will serve him extremely well as he advances toward his Ph.D. His success is a living proof of what can be achieved at UMBC.”

UMBC’s first Gates Cambridge Scholar was Ian Ralby ’02. Ralby is now a student in the M.Phil. program in International Relations at Cambridge. While completing his J.D. at the College of William and Mary in 2005, Ralby was part of a legal team that worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to provide legal research and support for the Iraqi High Tribunal as it prepared its legal case against Saddam Hussein.


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